Chevy Cobolt Interior
Continuing with the theme for a “Making Of” article, I wanted to discuss some of the technical efforts taken for the image created for the Chevy Cobolt picture. This was a composition based on the theme for a studio look to the shoot, shot on location with a portable kit. The end result focussed on users viewing the car as though they were in the car itself, able to view all of the details present.
There are several ways to achieve this look. I won’t go into the details of each method, just know that the method I discuss here is just one of several. Since we wanted a fully detailed image to show a prospective client, the lighting had to completely full the volume of space for the interior of the car, without creating harsh shadows, or strange reflections. Strange reflections would have included blown out highlights on various chrome and aluminum panels. Knowing this, we needed to establish a consistent light pattern to diffuse through the windows, and provide a balanced fill-light.
Since we were highlighting the front of the cars interior, only two lights were required. Each light was placed next to the front drivers and passenger windows. In testing various methods, we found that having the window up worked best, and placing a white sheet over each window proved for better diffusion (only if one needs to show the windows that is). For the front window, the outside light would have caused a problem with the glow inside the car, so a reflective shield was placed there to block any excess (non controlled) light from coming in.
As you can see from the above pictures, the lighting setup was relatively easy. This is a simple method that has some dramatic “studio” results.
Now, in order to get something like this to work for an entire car interior, you have a few options. The first is to wrap all of your windows in a white sheet, in an area with little to no external lighting (I.E., no sunlight, parking garages, etc.). So nighttime works great, as does any location with a dark atmosphere. The lighting setup would dictate either an umbrella at each window, or a large softbox to cover each window individually, or two windows at the same time.
Your second option is to blank out the windows in post process, and either fill them with a gradient color, solid white, or a neutral % grey. Alternatively, you can replace the window with another picture of some landscape, cityscape, etc. Make sure to account for window glare to add realism. For lighting reference, you can see the setup in the diagram below. Keep in mind the star is the car.